“…I love exploring the words with actors and I love transferring those words of a playwright to an audience…”
Janice has a wicked sense of humour… that is how the public knows her. She is the panto-queen of South Africa, using pantomime as Pieter-Dirk Uys uses Evita and Shapiro uses cartoons; her pantos allow us to laugh at ourselves. For thirty years Janice has pounced on government gaffs, picked up on commercials that become ‘street-talk’, badly behaved celebrities or sportsmen, all become characters in her pantomimes. The combined effect is hilarious, iconic and a sold-out annual tradition in Johannesburg.
However, Janice is definitely not just panto. From being a founder member of The Company at the Market Theatre she has continued as a writer and creator of original theatre both in English and in Afrikaans. Her range is breathtakingly diverse, from rollicking fun, to deeply cerebral drama, to political metaphor. She became known for a unique take on story-telling, plays like Marico Moonshine and Mampoer, the musical Holy Moses and all that Jazz, her bawdy and erotic Arabian Nights and Forbidden Fruits while This is for Keeps, co-written with Vanessa Cooke, is frequently revived to bring attention to woman abuse. Her Tempest with John Kani and Sir Anthony Sher is an Africanised political look at Africa through Shakespeare. The captivity on the Island transformed into Robben Island- ‘island life’ and the exploitation of Apartheid.
Again and again she has directed award winning plays. She directed the world premier of Athol Fugard’s Booitjie and the Oubaas. John Kani’s Nothing but the Truth, which toured Australia and America and she was invited to direct Celebrate South Africa at the Royal Albert Hall.
Few have immersed themselves in every aspect of South African theatre culture as Janice has, from children’s theatre, the dilemma of the coloured folk, to women’s concerns and politics. Her repertoire is boundless.